Advertising campaigns to crown them all : MEDIA

The industry's top `creatives' tell Meg Carter their ideas for some roy al money-spinners
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The Independent Online
Think Danny Baker, think Daz. In advertising, celebrity endorsement can refresh the parts other tactics cannot reach. Yet even in ad-land, some things remain taboo. It's hard to imagine the Queen taking over the Oxo family campaign or Princess Dia na promoting Weight Watchers. But with renewed debate over the future role of the monarchy, worried Windsors could do worse than consider a career in advertising.

When asked whether they would feature a Windsor, nine out of ten of the ad industry's top "creatives'' said their clients might prefer it. Using a royal in a campaign would offer the "ultimate endorsement", believes Trevor Beattie, creative director at the agency TBWA. "If we had Di driving a Nissan Micra, we'd sell a million."

Traditionally, use of the royals in advertising is prohibited unless it is to promote an article or programme about the Royal Family. But the climate is changing. So could the fevered minds that used Stalin to sell satellite dishes offer rewarding new roles for victims of royal rationalisation?

The Princess of Wales Princess Diana and the Duchess of York are seen to offer greatest potential and agency creatives vote them most likely to appear in a future campaign. "I think it is all too possible that sooner or later Diana will lend her name to a brand or a service," observes Patrick Collister, executive creative director at Ogilvy & Mather. But which?

"Princess Diana would be good for any glamour product," says Dave Waters, creative director of Duckworth, Finn, Grubb, Waters. "I could see her on bus sides across the UK promoting The Gap." Taking this idea one step further, Mr Beattie proposes Diana replaces the supermodel Eva Herzigova in his own agency's "Hello boys" Wonderbra campaign.

British Telecom could also cash in on Diana's recent association with the telephone, Mr Beattie suggests. What about BT's new "call back" service to counter nuisance calls? "For a change, Bob Hoskins could do the BT campaign skulking around Buckingham Palace, where he would surely eavesdrop on far more interesting conversations," Mr Waters adds.

The Duchess of York For Fergie, Mr Waters proposes a revival of the Shake 'n' Vac campaign featuring a dancing housewife putting the freshness back into her carpets. "Or perhaps the Sock Shop - we already have those toe-sucking photos." Alternatively, Tim Delaney, creative director of Leagas Delaney, suggests she could play the chocolate-dispensing hostess at the ambassador's residence featured in the Ferrero Rocher ad. He also nominates the Duchess as the ideal spokesperson for Thomson Holidays.

The Queen Should Her Majesty require cash for repairs to Windsor Castle, Mr Collister believes she could carve out a neat role for Pedigree Chum. "When it comes to top breeders recommending it, they don't come more top than Brenda," he says. But Mr Waters proposes a more practical role. "She could appear in the government campaign for smoke alarms. Or better still, Andrex - it's soft, strong and very long. She's been on the throne 42 years and still shows no sign of getting off, even with Charles banging on the door."

Mr Beattie suggests the Queen stars in her own campaign. In a reworking of a recent RSPCA ad he suggest the copyline: "The Queen is for life, not just for Christmas". "Given her experience on stamps, perhaps she could do a talking head campaign for the Royal Mail if all else fails," he adds helpfully.

The Queen Mother and Princess Royal Britain's favourite granny, the Queen Mum, would be ideal to replace JR Hartley in the Yellow Pages campaign, according to Gerry Moira, creative director of Woollams Moira Gaskin & O'Malley. "She could dial out for Beefeater gin, or perhaps for a pizza," he says. Or maybe Duracell batteries, Mr Collister adds - "because she goes on and on and on."

As for Princess Anne, agency creatives agree that of all the members of the Royal Family she already has a successful career in advertising - on behalf of charitable causes, notably Save the Children. "Maybe Range Rover or Hermes scarves could cash in," Mr Delaney suggests feebly.

Prince Charles While Persil could capitalise on the heir to the throne's new-found desire to wash his dirty linen in public, creatives remain unconvinced. "Prince Charles has already done a good job for Tampax with those unfortunate telephone recordings.Perhaps they could sign him up for a long-term campaign," says Mr Collister. Alternatively, both he and Mr Waters suggest exploiting the Prince's architectural pretensions for Barratt Homes.

Prince Andrew and Prince Edward Prince Charles's brothers fare little better. "Too bland," is the cry. "Join the Royal Navy and see ... the opposite sex," is Mr Delaney's suggestion for Prince Andrew. "It really is so difficult if a personality does not have an obvious or distinctive trait," he explains. And as for his younger brother - well, Mr Collister muses: "Prince Edward advertising Fairy Liquid has intriguing possibilities."

Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William and Prince Harry Prince Philip is cast by many as a dour, frustrated patriarch. Automatically excluded from any campaign promoting a foreign product, one creative head casts him in "the Victor Meldrew role in the Abbey National campaign, or as the man from Del Monte". However, his grandsons could find useful employment for McCain's oven chips - "Tell one's mum to get some in," Mr Moira suggests. "According to Spitting Image, Diana wants William and Harry to be trendy, hamburger-eating kids, but they just want to stay home playing chess," he explains.

Any celebrity endorsement has its downfalls. Unless the idea behind it is strong, the product can become a vehicle for the "star" rather than vice versa. Then there's the "Michael Jackson factor". The merest whiff of scandal can taint the product, as Pepsi found to its cost. But in the case of the royals, agencies seem to agree that despite their recent troubles, they remain a potent force.

The deterioration of the mystique that once surrounded the House of Windsor has already created a real-life saga as compelling as any TV soap, Mr Delaney says.

"If ever they were to appear in ads it would simply reinforce their emerging role as an extension of the entertainment business."